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Live Today @ C&D Tire/Maryville
Daddy Shula Rips The Tide!
Posted: Wednesday, December 27th, 2006, 9:31 AM • Permalink
Chris Low of The Tennessean Cometh Today. Here's some of the stuff we will be discussing!

Fulmer's favorite year

Coach Phillip Fulmer, who was part of Tennessee's streak of 16 straight bowl appearances until last season's 5-6 finish, said this has been the most fun year of coaching he's ever had.

"And that includes some great years," said Fulmer, who's 7-6 in bowl games. "This team, from where we started back in January to where we are at this point, has really improved.

"Our leadership has grown during the course of the year. The attitude and unselfishness of this team has been fun. We have some really good players. But more than anything, it's been fun because we've played well as a team."

Smith clearing up grade issue:
Tennessee senior receiver Bret Smith has to clear up an academic issue before he's eligible to play in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1, Coach Phillip Fulmer said Tuesday.

Fulmer said Smith made a D in a course that he needed to make at least a C in last semester and was in the process of submitting some additional school work to improve his grade.
"We're trying to find out some things to make sure he's 100 percent eligible," Fulmer said. "That's to be cleared up (Tuesday) or (today) whether he is or isn't."

Flight problems prevented Smith from arriving at the bowl site with the rest of his teammates Monday night. He was bumped from his flight after trying to use a frequent flier voucher, according to Fulmer, and was scheduled to be in Tuesday afternoon.

But Smith had still not arrived in time for the Outback Bowl dinner for the two teams on Tuesday night.

Funny Paterno:
Penn State Coach Joe Paterno was walking with the aid of forearm crutches at the dinner Tuesday night.

The 80-year-old coaching legend is still recovering from surgery after fracturing his shin bone and tearing two knee ligaments in his left leg after a sideline collision with two Wisconsin players on Nov. 4.

Paterno, during his time to speak at the dinner, pointed one of his crutches at the Tennessee players and jokingly told them not to get too confident.

"I'm not going to be playing," Paterno quipped.

Coker back:
Tailback LaMarcus Coker, after being suspended by Fulmer during the pre-Christmas practices, was dressed and back at practice Tuesday.

Fulmer said the former Antioch High star would play in the Outback Bowl, but wouldn't start. Coker led the Vols in rushing this season with 660 yards and averaged 6.4 yards per carry.

Mayo practices:
Sophomore linebacker Jerod Mayo practiced Tuesday and was pleased with the way his injured left knee held up.

"It feels a lot better than it did," Mayo said. "I did every period. But when it started cooling down and getting colder, that's when it started getting stiff again. My main focus is to keep it warm and I'm ready to go."

Mayo didn't practice during the pre-Christmas practices and stayed in Knoxville during Christmas to receive treatment on his knee. He had been experiencing some swelling, but said it didn't swell after Tuesday's practice.

Fulmer hopes Mayo will be able to play some, but said he expects Rico McCoy to start at weak side linebacker against the Nittany Lions.

McCoy pulled his groin toward the end of practice Tuesday, but Fulmer said he didn't expect that to affect McCoy for the game.

Tackle help:
The Vols received some future help on their defensive line when tackle Rolando Melancon of Lutcher, La., committed on Christmas Day.

The 6-foot-2, 265-pound Melancon is a four-star prospect by and rated as the 20th best tackle prospect in the country. He's rated as the fourth-best prospect in Louisiana and also had offers from LSU, Michigan, Arkansas, Mississippi and Nebraska.

Let's get physical:
The Vols practiced in full pads Tuesday and will have a 20-play scrimmage today."This team is still young in spots, and there's still a lot of work to do with certain things," Fulmer said."So we've taken a very physical approach and a very disciplined approach to why we're here, and they seem to respond best to that."

Pocketing some cash:
The Vols' players were allowed $1,400 by the NCAA for travel expenses to Tampa, which is based on what a round-trip, full-coach fare from Knoxville would cost.

Some of the players chose to car-pool and drive in order to be able to keep most of their money. For instance, Marvin Mitchell, Turk McBride, Ramon Foster and Mayo all met up in Knoxville and drove down a day early.

The players also get $20 per day for food and incidentals.

Inky update:
Cornerback Inky Johnson was released from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., on Sunday after undergoing surgery to repair nerve damage in his right arm and shoulder.

Johnson, who was injured in the Air Force game, returned to Atlanta along with his family. He told UT officials that he's considering joining the Tennessee team in Tampa later this week.

Greene out:
Defensive back Ben Greene, a regular for the Vols on special teams, will not play in the bowl game because of an illness.
**End C-Low**

I Loved Gerald Ford's Can-Do Spirit! The Guy was a sportsman!

Ford, who has died at age 93, played center on the University of Michigan football team, where he was a three-year letter winner. His teams enjoyed consecutive undefeated, national championship seasons in 1932 and 1933. He was the Wolverines' most valuable player in 1934 and, on Jan. 1, 1935, he played in a college all-star game known today as the East West Shrine Game.

Michigan later retired Ford's No. 48 jersey.

During a 1934 game against the University of Chicago, Ford became the only future U.S. president to tackle a future Heisman Trophy winner when he brought down halfback Jay Berwanger, who won the first Heisman the following year.

"When I tackled Jay in the second quarter, I ended up with a bloody cut and I still have the scar to prove it," Ford said after Berwanger's death in June 2002.

He also was the captain of his football team at Grand Rapids South High School and was an all-state center in 1930, his senior prep season.

Former Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler, who died in November, told The Associated Press during an interview in August that whenever Ford visited Ann Arbor in his later years, he would call on the team and join the players for dinner at their training table.

"At practice he would say, `Bo, do you mind if I get in the huddle?'" said Schembechler, who coached the Wolverines from 1969-89. "There was one rough-looking Secret Service guy that always was looking over President Ford's shoulder.

"Once when the president was leaning into the huddle, the Secret Service guy was standing between the ball and the huddle, and our quarterback said, 'What should I do?'" And I said, 'Run over him.'"

After graduating from Michigan, Ford turned down offers from the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers to play in the National Football League, said Don Holloway, curator of Ford's presidential museum in Grand Rapids.

Instead, Ford went to Yale University to become an assistant football and boxing coach, with the hope that it would help him get accepted into Yale Law School. Ironically, his coaching duties delayed his acceptance until spring 1938.

In April 1942, Ford joined the U.S. Naval Reserve as an ensign and he soon became a physical-fitness instructor at a preflight school in Chapel Hill, N.C. A year later, when he began service aboard the aircraft carrier USS Monterey, his first assignment was as athletic director and gunnery division officer.

He was in good physical condition when he became president at age 61. While living in the White House, he swam every day, skied regularly and played golf and tennis better than most other presidents, historians say.

But on a number of occasions, Ford, while golfing, hit into the galleries that lined the fairways to watch him. News cameras captured at least one spectator being hit in the head by an errant Ford shot.

Bob Hope, a golfing friend of Ford, once quipped: "It's not hard to find Jerry Ford on a golf course - you just follow the wounded."

Journalists also reported when Ford tumbled while skiing, when he slipped and fell on some metal steps while getting off Air Force One in the rain in Austria and when he bumped his head on an airplane doorway.

Ford developed a thick skin during his 25 years in the U.S. House of Representatives but he never cared for the jokes about his clumsiness, Holloway said.

"I'm sure it had to be somewhat frustrating but he had the ability that every successful politician has and that's the ability to laugh at himself and to laugh with others about himself," he said.

In his memoir, "A Time to Heal: The Autobiography of Gerald R. Ford," he bitterly recounted how a brief stumble recorded by a television camera turned into a national story.

"There was no doubt in my mind that I was the most athletic president to occupy the White House in years ... (but) from that moment on, every time I stumbled or bumped my head or fell in the snow, reporters zeroed in on that to the exclusion of almost everything else. ... (This) helped create the public perception of me as a stumbler. And that wasn't funny."

Jim Mora: Full Spin Control
proud of is our body of work over three years is impressive. The fact that we've won the most games in the NFC South, won a championship, gone to the NFC championship, have the fourth most wins in the NFC, you don't really hear about those things much. That's kind of what I focus on, trying to get better."

Florida State Goes For 6-7 Tonight:
The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Bowden still seems to be in denial about his staff's shortcomings. It became so obvious to everyone else, notably school officials and boosters, that Bowden had to do something.

Jeff has a new job, getting $107,000 a year from boosters to do anything except call plays at FSU. Longtime assistant Billy Sexton is retiring. Mark McHale and Daryl Dickey might be on their way out.

Individually, they may have superior coaching qualities. Collectively, they oversaw the decline of one of college football's great dynasties.

Oh sure, the run of 11-win seasons wasn't going to last forever. But there's no way FSU should have turned into an off week for Wake Forest.

Again, the blame ultimately goes to Bowden. But he relies on competent, vigorous assistants more than your average coach. Of course, your average coach now spends 27 hours a day dissecting tape, text-messaging recruits or worrying that some coach somewhere might be outworking him.

Bowden still does enough of that stuff. You don't win 365 games game on personality alone. But Bowden was a delegator long before he qualified for Social Security.

Shula's father criticizes Alabama
In an interview on ESPN's "Monday Night Football," Don Shula ripped the school that fired his son, Mike, as football coach last month.

"The people making the decisions, I hope they evaluate the evaluators," Shula said, according to a blog on the Web site of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "Things have not gone well for that program. Someone has to be responsible beyond Mike."

Shula said he doesn't believe Miami Dolphins coach Nick Saban will leave to take the Alabama job.

"I don't know if they're trying to wait him out or what they're doing," Shula said in the interview. "But Nick Saban has said he wants to stay here."

Onside gamble didn't pay:
Give MTSU credit. They may be rinky dink but at least when they got in the moment, they fired all the bullets in the chamber!

MTSU's unexpected onside kick early in the second quarter was a gamble, but one Coach Rick Stockstill was willing to take.

Reeling from a 14-0 early deficit in the Motor City Bowl, MTSU cut Central Michigan's lead in half with 10:57 remaining in the second quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff, senior Colby Smith short-hopped an onside kick toward the MTSU sideline, but the CMU player caught the ball on the second bounce.

The Chippewas scored three plays later to go ahead 21-7.

Stockstill said the timing of the onside kick was appropriate for the pace of the game.

"(CMU) went down and scored on their first two drives," Stockstill said. "And then Colby had executed that kick just great in practice over the last two weeks, just perfectly. I felt like he was in a good rhythm with that and he had a lot of confidence in the kick.

"Plus, it looked like we were going to have a hard time slowing them down. We missed a field goal already, and I felt like we needed to score some more points."

Mikki D
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